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Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli
Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli
by Ted Merwin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious & delightful read, 2 Jun. 2016
To borrow the iconic strapline in Levy’s Rye bread advertisement, “you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy” this book, but it helps. If you’ve tasted the delights of a Jewish Deli in New York, this book will fill you in on the history of what you’ve had the pleasure of tucking in to. If you haven’t, it might encourage you to go there and taste for yourself.

This history, written by an associate professor of Judaic studies, starts on the cover page of the book featuring an appetising overstuffed pastrami on rye. It tells the story of the birth of the New York Jewish Deli at the tail-end of the nineteenth century, its coming of age in the inter-war period, its rather sad decline but not extinction, and now seemingly a nostalgic resurgence.

It’s the history of how food follows those who eat it. The earliest waves of Jewish immigrants to New York in the latter part of the nineteenth century grew nostalgic for the food they might have enjoyed in Eastern Europe, but could hardly afford it. The Deli crossed the Atlantic to join them and started to flourish, Merwin argues, when the children of those early Jewish immigrants celebrated their first flush of success in America. The Deli followed them out of the lower-east side tenements and in to the outer boroughs of New York. After the Second World War upwardly mobile American Jews forsook the Deli-culture as part of their transition in to mainstream American culture. That trend seems to be reversing now as some American Jews seek to reclaim their links to their ancestral immigrant origins, and Jewish tourists to New York flock to the Lower East Side to relive the mythology.

Curiously, a Jewish Deli didn’t necessarily mean a kosher Deli. In its heyday in the 1930s Jewish Delis thrived in Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami Beach as well as New York. Beluga caviar, pâté de foie gras, oysters and even pork chops made their way on the menu of “Kosher-style” Delis. Was it divine retribution, then, for this adulteration that caused the number of Delis to dwindle from an estimated 1,500 in the 1930s to some 15 proper Jewish delicatessens in New York nowadays?

Merwin’s answer to that question is ‘probably not’. Instead, he cites concerns about calories and cholesterol, the spread of supermarkets (often with a deli-counter), and a tendency among mid-20th-century American Jews to downplay their ethnicity.

As for the recent resurgence of the Deli, Merwin helps to explain it with the notion of the “third place,” the space that is neither work nor home, but where people go to relax and unwind. Every ethnic group had its particular “third place”—for the Irish it’s the pub; for Italians the social club; for African-Americans the barbershop or beauty parlour. For the Jewish-at-heart it’s not the synagogue but the Deli!


Freaulein Rabbiner Jonas: The Story of the First Woman Rabbi (Arthur Kurzweil Books)
Freaulein Rabbiner Jonas: The Story of the First Woman Rabbi (Arthur Kurzweil Books)
by Elisa Klapheck
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The life story of Regina Jonas starts in 1902 when she was born in to a poor immigrant family in Berlin, 2 Jun. 2016
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This is a remarkable book, three times over:

1. It’s a biography of a remarkable woman, Regina Jonas, who, in 1935 in Germany, became the first woman ever to be ordained as a rabbi.
2. The biography of this remarkable woman is set against the remarkable backdrop of post First World War Germany during which time you see a divided and divisive Jewish community confronted by the rise of Nazism.
3. Thirdly, this biography is the result of a remarkable series of happenstance.

The life story of Regina Jonas starts in 1902 when she was born in to a poor immigrant family in Berlin. The premature death of her father, when she was a young girl, exacerbated the plight of the family. From a very early age her determination was to study the Torah, and her dream was to become a rabbi. Through adolescence to young adulthood Jonas’ powerful intellect was recognised and rewarded by religious teaching posts. Her natural empathy towards her pupils, and later her congregants also gained recognition. But she felt this wasn’t enough. Her resolve to become a rabbi, in the face of unwavering opposition among the German rabbinate, including the liberals, never weakened.
The origins of this book

Almost as remarkable as Jonas herself, is the story of how this biography came about. Dr Katharina von Kellenbach, an American academic, had long been researching the life of Jonas after discovering that a disgraced relative of von Kellenbach’s had been personally responsible for the death of numerous Jews during the war. Come 1989 and the fall of the Berlin wall, von Kellenbach gained access to an obscure archive in East Berlin. It contained Jonas’ certificate of ordination by liberal rabbi Max Dienemann, a halachic treatise, “Can women serve as rabbis?”, and correspondence with numerous and notable rabbis, including intimate correspondence between Jonas and Rabbi Dr Joseph Norden of Hamburg. With these pieces of the jig-saw puzzle Rabbi Elisa Klapheck believed she had sufficient material to complete this biography.

Yet the biography is incomplete to the extent that a number of enigmas remain:

1. Can Rabbi Leo Baeck’s reluctance to ordain Jonas, despite his ready recognition of her competence, be explained in terms of not wishing to rock the boat at a most sensitive period in Germany’s Jewish life? If so, why was he prepared to subsequently counter-sign her ordination?
2. Despite opportunities that arose for her to escape Nazi Germany, as many rabbis did, during the latter half of the 1930s was it her strong loyalty to her pupils and congregants, and latterly her love relationship with Rabbi Norden, thirty years her senior, that kept her from leaving?
3. Interned at Theresienstadt, she worked alongside Viktor Frankl, the Austrian psychiatrist, in his unit to help camp newcomers to overcome shock and suicidal tendencies. Yet neither Frankl nor Baek ever referred to her in their writing, which remains another enigma.

Her life ends tragically at the age of 42 in Auschwitz in 1944, yet this book, along with a documentary directed by Diana Groó, which has been televised, brings her back to life.


Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery
Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery
by Henry Marsh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.84

5.0 out of 5 stars Much good in Do No Harm, 2 Jun. 2016
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Looking down the Contents page, his life story looks like a series of 25 operations, and it has to be said that each chapter is centred on the experiences of one or a cluster of specific operations. But what each chapter highlights is what’s most interesting in his reflections of life as a brain surgeon, and I would go further and say life as a whole.

Had I edited this book, I would have re-titled each chapter based on the essence of what he’s writing about. My Contents page would look something like:
• The role of luck
• Knowing when to stop, or say “No” (and the whole vocabulary of medicine (e.g. “a challenge”, “complications”, the need to choose his words carefully,
• The balance between detachment and compassion
• The balance between hope & realism
• The surgeon as an actor, superficially it’s about the doctor’s “bedside manner”, but more seriously the need to sound confident while feeling insufficiently fearful, & actual stage-fright
• Knowing the limits of control
• Growing up (from Hubris to humility)
• The paradoxes in his life
Spent a lot of time in the NHS, but has “little time” for the NHS
Contempt for politicians yet honoured by the Establishment
Love /hate relationship with technology, e.g. the wonders of microscopic surgery but a contempt for computers
As for his writing style, he had me shuffling around in my chair, sometimes on the edge of the seat, other times cringing in the back corner of my seat praying to God let this operation be successful.


Sum: Tales from the Afterlives by Eagleman, David 1st (first) Edition (2010)
Sum: Tales from the Afterlives by Eagleman, David 1st (first) Edition (2010)
by David Eagleman
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A gift for the imagination, 1 Jun. 2016
40 very short stories are packed in to just over 100 pages, and packed to the brim with Eagleman’s creative imagination. Each story depicts some aspect of the afterlife. A favourite of mine lends itself to the title of the book, ‘SUM’. In this account of the afterlife, Eagleman tells us you relive all your experiences of life on earth, but with one big difference.

Life’s events are reshuffled in to a new order. Think about all the times in your life you spent asleep. Normally this would be at the end of each day. In the afterlife, you sleep continuously for say 30 years without ever opening your eyes. Same goes for sex in the afterlife where there’s uninterrupted sex until you’ve relived all the time spent on earth in this pleasurable pastime. Then there’s no more.
But the afterlife is not all pleasure , according to Eagleman. Remember the moments of pain stretched over your life? Well in the afterlife, you take all the pain at once.

In many of his stories, Eagleman takes an earthly maxim and then explores what lies ahead in the afterlife. In ‘Metamorphosis’ that maxim relates to there being three deaths: when the body [1] ceases to function, [2] is consigned to the grave/cremated, and [3] the moment sometime in the future when your name is spoken for the last time.

According to Eagleman, in the afterlife we all wait in a lobby until the third and final death. It’s a place where you might meet some very interesting people, just chat or even have serious discussions with them. But spare a thought for people like Shakespeare, and others immortalised for their contributions to life on earth.

They’ve been hanging around in the lobby for centuries, possibly a millennium with no prospect of being called by the ‘Callers’ who go about the lobby broadcasting the names of those to enter the true afterlife (third death) once there’s no-one remembering them.

In some of the stories, (e.g. ‘Mary’) Eagleman describes some of God’s favourite pastimes; for example, reading and re-reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein because G-d feels at last someone has understood him. Then there are stories (e.g. ‘Seed’) describing how God increasingly feels he’s in a tricky situation. The human species is growing smarter and smarter, and God is finding it more and more difficult to impress. . He feels like a magician who has been used to performing for small children and now suddenly has to play to skeptical adults.

If you don’t believe in an afterlife, is there any point in reading this book? Yes is the answer because Eagleman has skilfully used this fictional device of projecting forward in to the afterlife to make some sense of our life here and now on earth.


Slug Nematodes 12million (Treats 40sq.m)
Slug Nematodes 12million (Treats 40sq.m)
Offered by Gardening Naturally
Price: £12.24

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 31 Aug. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Love it, slugs hate it so it works!


Medipaq? Non-Slip Gripper Roll - Over 11,600 cm2 - ULTIMATE Extra Thick 400 gsm Floor, Mat, Tray, Drawer Grip - 100's of Other Household and In-Car Uses! (Black)
Medipaq? Non-Slip Gripper Roll - Over 11,600 cm2 - ULTIMATE Extra Thick 400 gsm Floor, Mat, Tray, Drawer Grip - 100's of Other Household and In-Car Uses! (Black)
Offered by Medipaq® from Great Ideas™
Price: £10.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars but then there's wasted length when cutting it to size, 31 Aug. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Does the job intended in the floor of the boot of the car. Only problem is that it comes in one standard width (too narrow for my liking) so you have to buy several rolls to cover the whole of the floor of the boot, but then there's wasted length when cutting it to size.


Glass Cleaner / Window Cleaner / Industrial Glass Cleaner x 2
Glass Cleaner / Window Cleaner / Industrial Glass Cleaner x 2
Offered by Virtual Plastics
Price: £9.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Not a bad product, and it's one I stock up with ..., 31 Aug. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Not a bad product, and it's one I stock up with regularly. Main difficulty is finding the right type of cleaning cloth (including lint-free) so that no swipe marks remain. best solution so far is old newspaper, and the best news paper for that job is the Daily Mail.


Marius Fabre Savon de Marseille Herbier Liquid Soap 1Litre - Lavender (Refill Bottle)
Marius Fabre Savon de Marseille Herbier Liquid Soap 1Litre - Lavender (Refill Bottle)
Offered by Soap Bubble Natural Cosmetics
Price: £14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 31 Aug. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Great but pricey, still cheaper than travelling to Marseille to stock up.


CLEANER FOR FIREPLACE STOVE GLASS FIRE SCREEN OVEN 250ml high quality NEW
CLEANER FOR FIREPLACE STOVE GLASS FIRE SCREEN OVEN 250ml high quality NEW
Offered by The Tuning-Shop
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to apply (does not drip down the glass face ..., 31 Aug. 2015
Beats all other cleaners! Why? Easy to apply (does not drip down the glass face like sprays/liquid cleaners), small amounts do the job so tube lasts a long time, small amount of rubbing effort because cream is so effective no matter how burnt the glass becomes, no smear marks left after wiping any excess cream. Great value for money to sum it all up.


The Gallery of Vanished Husbands
The Gallery of Vanished Husbands
by Natasha Solomons
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars and whether you have enjoyed any of her previous novels, 20 April 2015
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This is Ms Solomons’ third novel, and whether you have enjoyed any of her previous novels, such as Mr Rosenblum’s List, or this is your first there is a great deal to enjoy in this romantic mystery.

Without giving too much away, the plot is full of narrative twists and turns. The book opens in the late 1950s with Juliet Montague’s 30th. birthday. Missing most in her life at this stage is her husband, George, and a refrigerator. She knows when it comes to a suitable birthday gift it’s going to be easier to get a refrigerator than finding her vanished husband.

The narrative spans some four decades of her life, and while the story is fictitious, inspired largely by Natasha Solomons’ fertile imagination, some of that inspiration also comes from reality. For example, Natasha’s husband’s grandmother, Rosie, was an aguna (an abandoned wife unable to obtain a divorce unless her husband decides to grant her one). Rosie was left penniless with two young children by her vanished husband. Determined to re-emerge from the shadows of a life as an aguna, she makes a life for her and her children – no mean feat for a single mother in the Gorbals.

There’s a wonderful blend of fact and fiction skilfully threaded throughout the book, starting with its title. But the magic in this story stems from Ms Solomons’ imagination rather than reality. Not least, she’s intrigued by the idea of the aguna from a woman’s perspective. Something very important has gone missing, and remains missing in her life that, according to certain Jewish tradition, locks her in to a non-existent marriage solely because he’s gone missing.

It’s her exploration of the value of what’s missing in life, rather than what’s present, that takes the story out of the period and its setting and makes it almost timeless and virtually universal.


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